Year Book 2018-19 Contents
Calendar of Events – Results/Reports
English Chess Federation October Meeting (AGM), 2018
I attended as YCA delegate, Doncaster Congress delegate, and carried a proxy for the English Federation for Correspondence Chess. I also felt I represented Yorkshire’s local leagues who have just newly engaged with the ECF, and in due course should get their own votes entitling them to influence the ECF. The Hull & DCA had sent a directed proxy to the chairman. Leeds and Bradford leagues appear not to have been represented in person or by proxy.
But for a request for a mid-season increase to budgeted spend and proposals for greater-than-planned increases in membership fees for the coming two seasons, the meeting might have been quite tedious.
At the start of these meetings it has become the practice to hold a silence in memory of those who have died since the previous meeting. On this occasion the following were remembered:
John Toothill (Cumbria)
Dave Milton (Yorkshire) and
Peggy Clarke (Devon; daughter of B H Wood of Chess, Sutton, Coldfield, and wife of England Olympiad player Peter H Clarke).
Various reports were given, some foreshadowing some friction later on. A significant element of the new ideas coming out was that of a proposed Development Manager whose aim would essentially be to increase the number of ECF members. There was also the idea that work on greater participation by women, of all ages, needed doing.
Many elections these days are for (staggered) three-year periods, so there is not a complete set of elections to go through each year. Elections went as follows, only one being contested: (F=votes for; A=votes against; N= “none of these”)
* I voted for Tim Wall. That he was not elected may stem from things which have appeared in so-called “social media”, mentioned on the English Chess Forum. However, it seems (or seemed) likely Tim might end up as Development Manager, but that has yet to be sorted out. If there’s no suitable candidate, then the post (to be funded from the Chess Trust, subject to its acquiescence), will not be filled.
Interestingly, Chris Fegan says he thinks his job should be filled by a woman, and says he’s happy in principle to step down in favour of a suitable female candidate before the end of his three-year term to which he’s been elected.
Later on, a further election was of Stephen Greep as a trustee of the Chess Trust, a charity which is an adjunct to the ECF (in that it can nominate some trustees).
Details of awards had been advertised earlier, but Mike Truran made a belated addition to the list of those to receive an ECF President’s Award for Services to Chess, namely Hull’s Stephen Greep (joining Mike Denison in that list).
The contentious element was a request for a mid-season increase in budgeted expenditure based on the idea English chess is in a sorry state, that there are people eager to address the perceived problems, and that the ECF should strike mid-season while the iron is hot.. The paper “Challenges for English Chess and the ECF” (on ECF website) expands on the subject. Whilst the aspirations are quite laudable, the down-side was that it would require significant increases in membership fees, as that is the ECF’s primary source of income. Do Bronze and Silver members wish to significantly fund activities in which they have no interest and from which they perceive no significant benefit to themselves?
Setting of membership fees for 2019/20 is a job of the 2019 April Meeting, and the proposal on increased fees was in the nature of a test of whether they would be likely to get approval at that later meeting. There was a proposal to remove the part about levels of increased fees from the motion. This would enable people to make a judgement based on the outturn of the 2018-19 accounts, such as income from membership, but that proposed amendment failed (123 “card votes”, including my 5, for removal, but 165 against), so the meeting voted on the original combined package, which was passed by 27 hand votes to 13 (including mine), whereupon there was a call for a card vote requiring at least 5 organisations supporting the call. (I stuck up my hand to make the necessary 5 to force a card vote count.) The card vote was 160 for to 103 against, with 1 abstention.
As things stand now, the ECF’s expenditure budget for each of the next three years has risen by £26k split across the following area as in the table below, which also includes sum being sought from the Chess Trust (charity) and the ECF’s Permanently Invested Funds:
The provision for “Office Support” refers to money to possibly increase pay of the 2½ members of paid staff in the ECF office, and/or fund extra paid help. This is against the idea that pay might be slipping below the “going rate”, and that jobs which in the past were done by volunteers are increasingly being dumped on the office staff. Indeed, the member of staff usually present at the meetings was off sick, apparently with stress, which, frankly, doesn’t surprise me. The start of the membership year combined with the AGM (and other things at the same time) make this a busy time.
The £26k increase (in places given as £26.5k) increases the total 2018/19 expenditure budget from £413,331 to £438,331, a 6% increase. The extra money is to come out of “reserves” in 2018/19, as a budgeted overspend, but in subsequent seasons is envisaged (subject to April Finances Meetings’ approval) as being funded by increased membership fees as follows:
The proposed increases to congress “pay to play” fees mentioned in one circulated paper (“New Membership rates for 2019/20”) were NOT included in the wording of the proposal. These were an increase from the present £7.50 per non-member playing in a standard-play congress to £9 in 2019/20, then £10 in 2020/21. The ECF Board’s stated objective is to do away with “pay to play”, as it did with “game fee”, so that any organisation wishing its events graded would have to limit participant to ECF members.
I voted against the above budget-cum-fee proposal, on the basis that hitherto clubs and organisations have been opposed to such large increases. (I didn’t even bother asking them individually this time round, as this was not the final April vote.) Also, I’m mindful that players in local leagues which have just joined ECF grading, and who now are having to pay £16 to the ECF, are not eager for that to go up to £18 then £20 in the next two years. Such leagues may experience loss of players, loss of teams, and even loss of clubs, so accelerating a process of decline which the ECF seeks to reverse!
Many local league players would rather embrace an English Chess-Grading Association than help to fund broader national chess, not that such an organisation is likely to arise. Others are sympathetic to the broader needs of chess and would happily pay the fees the ECF Board feels need to be charged. This tension will need to be resolved within Yorkshire before April, when the above fees will need approval by Council.
It would be good to see 9 Yorkshire local-league delegates at Council Meetings, along with a few more of the congresses who could become member organisations if they applied. But, if they are not bothered, . . . . .